A few days ago I read something on my Aussie mate, Mrs Woog’s blog and it made my skin scrawl.
The story in The Sydney Morning Herald, was titled ‘The Rise of the Mummy Bloggers’. It was a superficial, once-over-lightly story. It focused on calling into question the ‘rise’ of the mummy bloggers in Australia. It had that sarky tone that suggested that the popularity of those blogging from ‘behind a wheel of a pram’ (how many prams do you know have steering wheels?), was ill deserved. It was an inflammatory piece, full of assumptions, and inaccuracies – there’s only 300 mummy bloggers in Australia? (WTF! Research people!)
But that wasn’t what got me. That was laughable criticism, the sort of snarky media commentary a jealous journalist might make about another successful writer – one who is actually making a living out of their talent. It used to happen all the time with journalists calling PRs sell-outs, words that were wonderfully amusing to recall when the journalist eventually tired of low pay and poor conditions and leapt to the dark-side.
Now the criticism has been levelled at bloggers. So what!
What got me was the viciousness in the comments on that article. In fact they were of such ferocity I wondered whether the majority of them were actually written by bitter and twisted journos. Comments such as –
“this is so tragic. Poor kids so exploited”
“There are so many unemployed mothers in Sydney, here’s an idea get a real job”. Other comments called mummy bloggers ‘morons’, ‘unintelligent’, ‘cliquey’ and ‘intellectual’. (I know strange isn’t it that even the criticisms aren’t consistent!)
It’s quite depressing to read really, not just because I am a mum who blogs (I don’t really see myself as a mummy blogger) but because the vitriol is so at odds with the many wonderful blog posts that are choking my Facebook wall. This week alone I have read, raw writing from women who aren’t blogging to get into KFC for free. They are putting into words their pain, and the pain of the community around them.
Forget for a moment they are women.
Forget for a moment they are mums.
Remember, just for a moment, that they are writers using the most hard-hitting media available to them. Where once they would have told the story around the fire whilst the men were out chasing bison, now they blog. And it is good.
As very good as free speech can be.
First up on my blog list, is the heart wrenching story of Wanderlust who is on the run from her ex-husband who has threatened to kill her and her children. Oh, and he was found to have 18,000 incidents of child pornography on his home computer. Yeah, he’s still walking the streets, he’s not yet in prison. And Wanderlust? She’s in hiding. Her story is not some b.s. about cupcakes or cookies.
Her story is unbelievable, but it is indeed true, and raw and chilling. And beautifully written.
Second there’s the blog of my Australian expat friend Kirsty, who is currently living in Doha, Qatar. She blogs about her life with her four little travellers and the highs and lows of the expat life. This week her blog became a focal point for the outpouring of grief surrounding the tragic fire at the Villagio mall in Doha, which killed 19 people, many of them children. Kirsty’s story is told simply. She says in her blog that she is ‘wordless’, but actually her words are searingly powerful.
I cried when I read them. And I cried some more when I read the comments.
This woman, like so many others, is pulling people together by blogging her story. It may not be the traditional analysis and objective (yet how objective really is it in this PR age?) story of journalism and his-story, but it is still valid.
It is real.
My third example is another Australian ‘mummy blogger’, who dared to bare. Adelaide mum Bianca from Bigwords’ blog was incensed by the pressure on women to immediately regain their pre-pregnancy weight and so she blogged about her Baby Belly. The reaction was incredible. There are over 136 comments and 46 likes on that post alone and the post lead to radio and television interviews.
You could say she hit a nerve. This is not the idle mutterings of a prima donna of the mummy underclass.
Years ago women writers were derided for doing something as unseemly as scratching words on paper. They were supposed to focus on matters of domesticity and the hearth. Strong opinions were discouraged. Women writers were chastised and rebuked as scribblers with dubious morals.
Jane Austen says it perfectly in Persuasion (1818), when her character, Anne Elliot says, “Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands.”
Amazing, isn’t it that things haven’t changed so much since Jane Austen’s day!
What a shame the SMH writer and those who deigned to vent their vitriol all over the comments’ pane didn’t stop to reflect that maybe, just maybe, when it comes down to a free press, bloggers such as these women are where it is at.
I for one hope, these bloggers and the many thousands like them around the world, never, ever shut up.
Image: Flickr CC